By Peter Egwuatu
Environment stakeholders have emphasised that environmental sanitation, waste collection, sorting and recycling would translate to community empowerment.
The experts disclosed this at the Alpha Beach, Lekki, Clean-up flag off by Sterling One Foundation on Saturday, stressing that the exercise would engender income and economic development in the coastal communities.
Olapeju Ibekwe, Chief Executive Officer, CEO of Sterling One Foundation, said that cleaning of beaches would empower communities on the coastline.
According to her: “Those who will ensure that our communities are cleaned are the youths and women living within the communities. The exercise was not mere clean-up but a project that would address at least seven of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs of the United Nation. The goals include: Eradication of poverty and hunger, achieving good health and well-being, achieving sustainable cities and communities, and gender equality, life above water and descent work, economic growth and partnership for the achievement of SDGs.”
She said that the Foundation was looking for more partners to drive the project.
“Micro plastics have negative health implications on humans if they find their ways into fishes consumed by humans.
So the collaborative efforts would be required to ensure that Nigerians would live healthier in a more caring and sustainable environment.
“This beach will be adopted and cleaned throughout the year, and we are going to be adopting more beaches in the course of the year.
“We believe it is a drop in the ocean. It will cause some ripples and the ripples will go far to ensure that our coast lines and beaches are comparable to the best in the world,” Ibekwe said.
On the sustainability of the project, Ibekwe said that funds realised from recycled wastes would be used to sustain the project.
She said that Sterling One Foundation were investors in giving.ng – the crowd raising platform on which funds for the project were raised.
She explained that the project was spearheaded by Mr Abubakar Sulaiman, Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc. in his personal capacity, and set up on giving.ng.
Commenting as well, Mr Alexander Akhigbe, CEO, African Clean up Initiatives, ACI said: “Our focus is on the cleanliness of beaches so that fishes found in them will not end up consuming our plastics. The responsibility in ensuring that wastes would not find their ways into the beaches restec on all Nigerians.
ACI has been given the responsibility to clean-up Alpha beach for one year because of its receiving track record.
ACI will be working with Alpha beach on monthly basis to ensure that it is clean and remains clean for the rest of the partnership that it has with Sterling One Foundation.”
He called on the citizens to show care for the environment by keeping it clean at all times.
Another key partner in the project, Sterling Bank, represented by Mr Lanre Olelesi, of its Corporate and Investment Banking Unit, said : “The bank was committed to environmental clean-up.
”We have to make sure we invest in the environment because this is the only place that we know. There is no other place that we can live in.
“We need to continue to invest and care for the environment, and the environment will in turn take care of us.”
Mr Akambi Williams, Director, International Ocean Institute (IOI), Nigeria, expressed delight that awareness on beach clean-up had been on the increase globally.
Williams noted that many non-governmental organisations were championing activities on waste reduction through recycling.
“We hailed Lagos State Government for putting structures on ground for effective waste management.
We also appealed to Nigerians to be mindful of the way they disposed wastes, especially plastic, noting that it could take hundreds of years for plastic to decompose.”
Mr Taiwo Adewole, Executive Director, RecyclePoints, expressed happiness in taking part in the clean-up.
“I am very happy to be part of this initiative as a recycler because this is not just a clean-up, but a clean-up that leads to empowerment.
The members of the coastline community would be thought the culture of effective waste management that would earn them money in return for every recyclable plastic picked.
Lagos boasts of over 40 recyclers whose raw materials are derived from wastes picked from the environment.”